ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Dynamic View of Early Indian Society

Early Indian Society and Economy by R. S, Sharma; Manaktalas, Bombay, 1966; pp. ix + 168. Rs 22.50.

The book is a collection of essays some of which have been published earlier. The essays are all concerned with some aspect of the society and economy of India from its earliest beginnings upto about 1200 A.D. At a first glance the choice of subjects seems quite casual, but on further reading each theme takes on significance inasmuch as it is chosen with relevance to the kinds of analysis which require to be made vis-a-vis the social and economic history of ancient India.

The book is a collection of essays some of which have been published earlier. The essays are all concerned with some aspect of the society and economy of India from its earliest beginnings upto about 1200 A.D. At a first glance the choice of subjects seems quite casual, but on further reading each theme takes on significance inasmuch as it is chosen with relevance to the kinds of analysis which require to be made visavis the social and economic history of ancient India.

In surveying earlier works on social history the author makes the valid point that most historians have described the social structure of early India as a fully evolved system from the very beginning and which continued to exist in an unchanging manner throughout the period of early Indian history. Even Marx who assumed that there were conflicts and changes within a social system described a generally static society when he referred to the Asiatic mode off production. It might also be added that most historians of early India have accepted the theoretical description of the social structure as given in legal texts without properly investigating the historical authenticity of this description. The idea of using analytical categories to define changes in society over a long period or to examine the presuppositions of literary source material is still something very new in the equipment of the Indian social historian.It is surprising, the number of Ph.D. theses on Indian social history the authors of which are quite oblivious to such elementary analysis.

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